Estate Planning

Planning for Special Circumstances

Estate Planning for Your Graduate

by Rania Combs

Graduation Cap

If you are the parent of a high school senior about to graduate, you’re probably feeling a whirlwind of emotion right now. I know I am. My youngest child is scheduled to graduate in May!

While you’re proud of how much your child has accomplished and excited about the bright opportunities ahead for him or her, you’re probably also a bit anxious too. As a parent, it’s been your job to keep your child safe for 18 years, but now, your baby is heading out alone.

It’s scary, especially if your child is going to school hours away or in another state.

Your anxious mind can spiral into negative thoughts. What happens if your child is in an accident in the middle of the night while away at school? How will anyone know to contact you in the event of an emergency?

Those are valid concerns.

High School Graduates Need Estate Planning

I’ve written before about the three legal documents that every college student needs: A Durable Power of Attorney, Medical Power of Attorney, and HIPAA Authorization.

Why?

Because even though your child will likely be relying on you for the majority of his support during college, in the eyes of the law your 18-year-old child is legally an adult and entitled to the same privacy protections you are.

By signing a Durable Power of attorney, Healthcare or Medical Power of attorney, or HIPAA Authorization, your child gives you the legal authority to step in and help when he or she needs you most.

Storing Estate Planning Documents

The way you store these documents can also serve to notify you if your child is involved in an accident and hospitalized while away from school.  Services such as Docubank and Legal Directives LLC allow individuals to digitally store medical documents online. Both these companies have special programs for college students.

The enrollment form requests information about your child’s emergency contacts (parents), primary care physicians, allergies and medical conditions, and copies of healthcare directives. After your child enrolls, he or she will receive a wallet card indicating his membership. The wallet card provides instructions to emergency medical personnel about how to access your child’s healthcare documents.

Additionally, any time directives are requested by medical personnel, parents will receive an email alert. That means that if your child is out of town and has a medical emergency, you will always know where he or she is so that you can get information about your child’s condition and make travel arrangements immediately.

For more information about the importance of estate planning for your college student, read: Does My College Student Need Estate Planning?

This article was originally published on June 6, 1996, and updated on January 2, 2023.

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